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JESSE Y.

YAP,

Petitioner,





- versus -





HON. MONICO G. CABALES, Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court, Branch 35, General Santos City;
MUNICIPAL TRIAL COURT, Branch 1, General Santos City; COURT OF APPEALS, PEOPLE OF THE
PHILIPPINES, JOVITA DIMALANTA and MERGYL MIRABUENO,

Respondents.




G.R. No. 159186




Present:





Ynares-Santiago, J.,

Chairperson,

CARPIO,*

cORONA,**

nachura, and

PERALTA, JJ.







Promulgated:


June 5, 2009



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DECISION





PERALTA, J.:



This is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court with prayer for the
issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction and/or issuance of status quo order seeking to annul and set
aside the Resolution[1] of the Court of Appeals (CA) dated July 17, 2003 denying petitioner's motion for
reconsideration of the Decision[2] dated April 30, 2003 in CA-G.R. SP No. 68250.



The facts of the case are as follows:



Petitioner Jesse Y. Yap and his spouse Bessie Yap are engaged in the real estate business through
their company Primetown Property Group.



Sometime in 1996, petitioner purchased several real properties from a certain Evelyn Te (Evelyn).
In consideration of said purchases, petitioner issued several Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI)
postdated checks to Evelyn. Thereafter, spouses Orlando and Mergyl Mirabueno and spouses Charlie
and Jovita Dimalanta, rediscounted the checks from Evelyn.



In the beginning, the first few checks were honored by the bank, but in the early part of 1997,
when the remaining checks were deposited with the drawee bank, they were dishonored for the reason
that the Account is Closed. Demands were made by Spouses Mirabueno and Spouses Dimalanta to the
petitioner to make good the checks. Despite this, however, the latter failed to pay the amounts
represented by the said checks.



On December 8, 1997, Spouses Mirabueno filed a civil action for collection of sum of money,
damages and attorney's fee with prayer for the issuance of a writ of preliminary attachment against
petitioner before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of General Santos City, docketed as Civil Case No.
6231.[3] On December 15, 1997, Spouses Dimalanta followed suit and instituted a similar action, which
was docketed as Civil Case No. 6238.[4]

Subsequently, on various dates, the Office of the City Prosecutor of General Santos City filed
several informations for violation of Batas Pambansa Bilang (B.P. Blg.) 22 against the petitioner with the
Municipal Trial Court in Cities (MTCC), General Santos City. The criminal complaints were docketed as
Criminal Case Nos. 34873, 34874, 34862 to 34869, and Criminal Case No. 35522-I.[5]



In the criminal cases, petitioner filed separate motions to suspend proceedings on account of the
existence of a prejudicial question and motion to exclude the private prosecutor from participating in
the proceedings.[6] Petitioner prayed that the proceedings in the criminal cases be suspended until the
civil cases pending before the RTC were finally resolved.



The MTCC, in its Orders[7] dated June 21, 2000 and July 4, 2000, denied the motions for lack of
merit. Petitioner filed a Partial Motion for Reconsideration[8] relative to Criminal Case Nos. 34873,
34874, 34862 to 34869 and a Motion for Reconsideration of the Part of the Order Denying the Motion
to Suspend Proceedings on Account of the Existence of a Prejudicial Question relative to Criminal Case
No. 35522-I.[9] The subsequent motions were denied in the Order[10] dated October 18, 2000.



Aggrieved, petitioner filed a Petition for Certiorari with a Prayer for the Issuance of a Writ of
Preliminary Injunction[11] before the RTC, docketed as SPL. Civil Case No. 539, imputing grave abuse of
discretion on the part of the MTCC Judge. On July 2, 2001, the RTC issued an Order[12] denying the
petition.



Petitioner then filed a Motion for Reconsideration,[13] which was denied in an Order dated
October 18, 2001.[14]



Thereafter, petitioner filed with the CA a Petition for Certiorari Prohibition and Mandamus with
Urgent Prayer for the Issuance of Status Quo Order and Writ of Preliminary Injunction,[15] docketed as
CA-G.R. SP No. 68250.



On April 30, 2003, the CA rendered a Decision[16] dismissing the petition for lack of merit. The CA
opined that Civil Case Nos. 6231 and 6238 did not pose a prejudicial question to the prosecution of the
petitioner for violation of B.P. Blg. 22.

The CA ruled:

In the instant case, a careful perusal of Civil Cases Nos. 6231 and 6238 reveals that the issue
involved therein is not the validity of the sale as incorrectly pointed out by the petitioner, but it is,
whether or not the complainants therein are entitled to collect from the petitioner the sum or the value
of the checks which they have rediscounted from Evelyn Te. It behooves this Court to state that the sale
and the rediscounting of the checks are two transactions, separate and distinct from each other. It so
happened that in the subject civil cases it is not the sale that is in question, but rather the rediscounting
of the checks. Therefore, petitioner's contention that the main issue involved in said civil cases is the
validity of the sale stands on hollow ground. Furthermore, if it is indeed the validity of the sale that is
contested in the subject civil cases, then, We cannot fathom why the petitioner never contested such
sale by filing an action for the annulment thereof or at least invoked or prayed in his answer that the
sale be declared null and void. Accordingly, even if Civil Cases Nos. 6231 and 6238 are tried and the
resolution of the issues therein is had, it cannot be deduced therefrom that the petitioner cannot be
held liable anymore for violation of B.P. Blg. 22.[17]

Petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration,[18] which was denied in the Order[19] dated July 17,
2003.

Hence, the petition assigning the following errors:

1. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN RULING THAT THERE IS NO PREJUDICIAL
QUESTION IN THE CIVIL CASES (FOR COLLECTION OF SUMS OF MONEY INSTITUTED BY PRIVATE
RESPONDENTS OVER CHECKS ISSUED BY THE PETITIONER, CIVIL CASE NOS. 6238 AND 6231) THAT
WOULD WARRANT SUSPENSION OF THE CRIMINAL CASES (CASE NO. 35522-1, FOR VIOLATION OF B.P.
22, SUBJECT OF WHICH ARE THE VERY SAME CHECKS).

2. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT GRANTING THE PRAYER FOR THE
ISSUANCE OF A WRIT OF PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION AND/OR STATUS QUO ORDER.[20]